Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31 May 2022:
When Capitol Food, the makers of Sierra Juice, piloted a new street and small vendor programme as part of their marketing mix, the company created the opportunity for 140 officially registered vendors in Freetown to expand their businesses and boost their incomes.
Before introducing the small vendor sales programme, Capitol Food distributed Sierra Juice solely via wholesalers. Under the new programme, Capitol now also sells directly to selected street and small vendors.
The street and small vendor programme is part of the support offered by Invest Salone, a UK Government-funded private sector development initiative, under its COMPETE Salone grant facility. COMPETE Salone works by offering guidance and matching grants to private companies. It is intended to help businesses test innovative ideas with the potential to create jobs, improve livelihoods and increase exports.
Capitol Food’s new street and small vendor programme has the potential to be beneficial for the company and the sellers. It creates jobs, particularly for women and young people, and it gives them the opportunity to buy Sierra Juice directly from the company – which means they earn more on each sale. Furthermore, because street vendors offer consumers easy access to a wide range of affordable goods and services, selling through them is an opportunity to access new or hard-to-reach markets.
The Capitol Food team recruited their first cohort of vendors through recommendations from local community representatives and wholesalers based in the company’s underserved areas, where sales have been historically low. The vendors received an intensive induction which provided them with sales, marketing and customer service training, as well as business advice. They also learned about food safety and product storage and handling.
Almost all (87%) of the trainees successfully completed the induction and have gone on to become Sierra Juice vendors. Each vendor received a starter pack with 24 bottles of juice and promotional t-shirts, as well as other marketing material. Capitol Food have also set up a dedicated hotline so that vendors can call to request new stock.
Grace Kuyateh, a married mother of three, sells in the Congo Town area of Freetown. She has been in the soft drinks business for over five years and rents a small shop. She said she found the training beneficial and that the new hotline and delivery system is helping her save time and money: “Buying from the van has increased my profit when compared to buying from wholesale shops, and with distribution through the company van, I am always assured of consistent supplies of Capitol’s Sierra Juice,” she added.
Avril Pratt, a consultant with Invest Salone, said: “It is amazing to see women and young people motivated to work as retail agents of Sierra Juice. This opportunity promotes economic empowerment of women and young people by giving them a sustainable revenue-generating stream which contributes to improving their lives and that of their families.”
Hamza Hashim, CEO Capitol Foods added: “We are excited about this initiative as it underpins our commitment to social inclusion and economic participation. It has strengthened our network of street sellers and provided better engagement with our customers. We plan to support the street sellers further by providing them with coolers so they can add value by selling cold juice. Going forward, we are looking at building on these relationships by introducing new Sierra Juice products to the street sellers, which will increase their product offerings and incomes. We will trial the same street seller initiative in major towns like Bo and Kenema, to build a larger distribution network of women and youth.”